Canine Cushing’s Disease – What It Is and Which Dog Breeds are More Likely to Get It

Canine Cushing’s Disease is a condition that affects middle-aged to older dogs. It is caused by an overproduction of cortisol, a hormone that is essential for several processes including regulating metabolism, blood pressure, as well as the body’s response to stress.

However, when its levels are too high, it can lead to a range of symptoms that can be uncomfortable, painful, and even life-threatening for your furry friend. In this read, we will explore what Canine Cushing’s Disease is, which dog breeds are more likely to get it, and also how it can be treated and managed.

What is Canine Cushing’s Disease?

Canine Cushing’s Disease is a condition that occurs when the adrenal glands in dogs release too much cortisol. This overproduction can be caused by either an excessive stimulation of the adrenal glands by the pituitary gland or due to a tumor in the adrenal glands.

Some of the common symptoms of the condition can include excessive panting, increased thirst and urination, increased appetite, hair loss, muscle weakness, bruising and a potbellied appearance. In severe cases, the disease can also lead to more serious health problems such as diabetes, infections, and liver disease.

It is important to note that most of these symptoms may appear with other medical conditions, making it difficult to diagnose Cushing’s disease by yourself. As such, it is advisable to visit the veterinarian as soon as you notice something wrong with your pet.

Types of Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

There are three types of Cushing’s syndrome that affect our furry friends. These include:

1. Pituitary-dependent Hyperadrenocorticism (PDH)

This is the most common form of Cushing’s syndrome in canines. It occurs when a tumor forms on the pituitary gland leading to an overproduction of cortisol. This type of disorder is responsible for at least 85% of canine hyperadrenocorticism cases.

2. Adrenal-dependent Cushing’s Syndrome

This type occurs is when a tumor forms on the adrenal gland. This gland is found in the abdomen and also secretes essential hormones such as adrenaline. While these tumors are less common, they happen in about 15% of Cushing’s cases.

3. Iatrogenic Cushing’s Disease

This one develops after a canine has taken steroids for an extended period.

Which Dog Breeds are More Likely to Get Cushing’s Disease?

While there is no apparent reason as to why Cushing’s Disease is more likely to develop in some breeds, it is pretty evident that some dogs are more likely to get it. Dogs with a higher chance of developing the condition range from small to large, without an apparent distinction between the breeds.

However, it has been established that the following breeds are at a higher risk of getting the disease. These include:

  • Dachshund
  • Poodles
  • Terriers
  • Boxers
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Beagles
  • American Eskimo Dogs
  • Maltese
  • German Shepherd
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Labrador Retriever

How is Canine Cushing’s Disease Treated?

Canine Cushing’s Disease treatment more often than not depends on the cause and severity of the condition. There are a few forms of treatment which are medical treatments, holistic/natural and surgical treatments. The former can include medications like trilostane and mitotane, which help to control the production of cortisol in the adrenal glands. Natural canine adrenal support supplements exist as well which include dandelion, abhwagandha, turmeric as well as lignans.

The latter may also be necessary in some cases, like when there is an adrenal gland tumor that needs to be removed. In addition to these types of treatments, diet and lifestyle, supplementation changes may also be needed in order to help manage Canine Cushing’s Disease.

Prevention and Management

It is important to note that Cushion’s disease cannot be completely cured. However, regular vet checkups can help with early detection as well as management of the condition. The vet will be able to conduct blood tests and monitor cortisol levels in order to determine whether your pet is at risk for Canine Cushing’s Disease.

If the condition is diagnosed, they will partner with you to come up with a personalized treatment plan to help manage the disease.